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Low Blood Sugar Events Increase Dementia Risk in Elderly Patients With Type 2 Diabetes, Kaiser Permanente Study Finds
Date:4/14/2009

OAKLAND, Calif., April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes that require a visit to the hospital are associated with increased risk of dementia in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, according to a Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Though not a randomized clinical trial, this study provides additional information for the debate about how tightly blood sugar should be controlled in patients with type 2 diabetes, particularly in elderly patients, say the researchers. The study appears in the current diabetes mellitus themed issue of JAMA.

While several studies have shown low blood sugar to affect cognitive function in children with type 1 diabetes, this is the first study to evaluate the association in older patients with diabetes.

"We know that the brain becomes more vulnerable with age, and we need a better understanding of how glycemic control can affect brain health over the long term," said the study's principal investigator, Rachel A. Whitmer, Ph.D., a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. "This study adds to the evidence base that perhaps we should rethink the notion of very tight glycemic control for our elderly patients with diabetes mellitus."

The study looked at 16,667 elderly patients with type 2 diabetes from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Diabetes Registry. The average age for the study population was 66 years; 55 percent were male and 60 percent were white. The researchers identified 1,465 patients in the cohort that were hospitalized or had an emergency room admittance at least once for hypoglycemia from 1980 to the end of 2002.

Compared to those with no hypoglycemic episodes, patients with one hypoglycemic episode had a 45 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with dement
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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